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Ravens News 1/16: Ranking offseason needs and more

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Offense Line Scoring vs. Titans 1/11/20 - Ken McKusick

Stanley: Ronnie had his worst game of the season.

Stanley’s struggles reflected the game-plan adjustments required by circumstance. Because the Ravens had to abandon the run for most of the scored snaps, neither he nor Orlando Brown had the simpler assignments created by the read option. They also did not benefit from controlled rush lanes which the Ravens have typically faced this season as a measure to contain Jackson.

It was a tough ending to an outstanding season for Ronnie.

Yanda: Marshal played well and left us wondering if he’s played for the final time.

His actions after the game strongly indicate retirement in terms of taking pictures with family on the field and referring to the team in the third person.

The 50 best available NFL free agents in 2020 - PFF

35. DI MICHAEL PIERCE

Despite a down year by his lofty standards, Pierce has been one of the best run stoppers in the NFL since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2016. He peaked in 2018 with a 92.0 grade against the run, and that was also his best year as a pass-rusher, as he notched 21 pressures on 247 rushes. Pierce is a role player, but he’s proven to be capable of putting together a valuable 400-500 snaps as an early-down run stopper.

Top Questions for Ravens Heading Into Offseason - Clifton Brown

How will the Ravens improve their pass rush?

Bolstering the pass rush is a top priority after Baltimore finished 21st in the NFL in sacks (37) despite blitzing more than any other team. Matthew Judon had a Pro Bowl season and was far and away the team’s best pass rusher with 9 ½ sacks. The next closest teammate was Tyus Bowser with five sacks.

Judon will be a free agent in March and he is in line for a huge payday if he hits the open market. Will the Ravens place the franchise tag on Judon, insuring that they keep him at least one more season? Will they offer him a deal that entices him to stay? Or will they lose their best pass rusher in his prime at age 27, after losing Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs during last year’s free agency? Smith finished sixth in the league in sacks (13 ½) with the Green Bay Packers, helping them reach the NFC Championship game.

Rookie Jaylon Ferguson had 2 ½ sacks and showed promise. Bowser made strides and could continue to improve. Pass rushers are a valuable commodity, and regardless of what happens with Judon, the Ravens will be targeting pass rushers this offseason via the draft, free agency, or trades.

Baltimore Ravens’ offseason needs: Ranking each position group - Aaron Kasinitz

5) Wide receiver

Marquise Brown showed flashes of dynamic potential through his rookie season and Willie Snead gives the Ravens’ a tough slot specialist. Still, Baltimore might want to surround Jackson with an additional playmaker or two. The Ravens could go without a prominent addition and hope that 2019 third-round Miles Boykin makes strides or that the offense continues to shine while tight ends power the passing game.

But the arrival of another top-tier receiver might represent Baltimore’s best chance at improving an offense that led the NFL in scoring in 2019.